Record Eurozone Unemployment Pits North Against South

The December unemployment rate for the 17-member countries comprising the Eurozone rose to the highest level since the Euro was introduced in 1999. For the month of December, the rate for the entire region rose to 10.4 percent after the November result was similarly revised upwards one tenth of a percent from the originally-reported 10.3 percent.

A total of 16.5 million people across the Eurozone are now out of work. This is an increase of three quarters of a million in the past year alone. But the pain is not being felt equally amongst all Eurozone nations.

Greece and Spain recorded the greatest increase in unemployment over the past year. At 22.9 percent, Spain had the highest unemployment rate for the entire area with Greece not far behind at just over 19 percent. Portugal watched helplessly as its unemployment rate continued to climb reaching 13.6 percent in December.

Comparing the results of these southern countries with the northern jurisdictions reveals the gap between the north and the south. In Germany, for instance, December’s unemployment rate actually fell more than expected to 6.7 percent – the lowest since German was reunited. Meanwhile, Austria and the Netherlands continued to record the lowest Eurozone unemployment at just 4.1 and 4.9 percent respectively.

Unemployment to Increase in Some Eurozone Countries

Looking ahead to the coming year and beyond, there is every likelihood that the situation will actually worsen. As even the most casual observer knows, the Greek government is presently under intense pressure to implement the infamous “austerity” measures to address the country’s widening deficit.

The massive spending cuts targeted to meet the goal of ultimately eliminating the deficit will require Greek authorities to eradicate a significant number of government jobs. Other countries including Spain, Portugal, and even Italy will be forced – to some degree at least – to follow the same agenda in order to get a handle on overall spending.

Widespread job losses will not be restricted to just the government, however; the private sector too will be forced to reduce costs as companies struggle with falling sales. In the face of the continued uncertainty and growing fears of recession, companies will postpone or even cancel all but the most essential new projects, delaying new hiring accordingly.

Again, it will be the southern countries that will feel the effects of this most keenly.

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